Twenty-one US metro areas, led by Montgomery, AL and Stockton, CA, reported obesity rates of 31% or higher in 2009, based on their residents’ self-reported height and weight, according to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. Both cities tied for the highest 2009 obesity rate of 34.6%, closely trailed by Visalia-Porterville, CA (34.1%).
Ft. Collins, Boulder Least Obese
Among the 11 cities of the 187 studied with obesity rates lower than 20%, four are in Colorado. These include the least obese, Fort Collins-Loveland (16%), and second-least-obese, Boulder (16.6%).
Gallup analysis indicates one of these cities, Denver, still spent an estimated $704 million in preventable healthcare costs in 2009 because of its 19.3% obesity rate. But its healthcare costs would have been $262 million higher if its obesity rate matched the national average.
Weight Loss Gains Savings
The majority of cities Gallup studied need to cut their obesity rates by at least a quarter to come close to the national goal of 15% set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cities with the highest rates of obesity need to cut their rates by more than half.
From a cost savings perspective, if all 187 cities reduced their obesity rates to 15%, the U.S. could save $32.6 billion in healthcare costs annually. Additionally, if the nation’s 10 most obese cities cut their rates to the national 2009 average of 26.5%, they could collectively save nearly $500 million in healthcare costs each year. Cut to 15%, the cost savings would climb to nearly $1.3 billion annually.
Obesity Drives Health Problems
In the 10 most obese metro areas, diabetes is 72.5% more common than in the 11 least obese cities, as is a history of heart attacks (64.5%). The incidence of high blood pressure and high cholesterol is also greater in these cities.
Gallup says these health challenges may help explain why residents in the most obese cities are more likely to report lower energy levels than those in America’s least obese cities. Residents in the most obese cities report 4.2% less daily energy, which can result in lost productivity, what Gallup calls one of the hidden costs of obesity.
US Adult Obesity Stabilizes
More than six in 10 American adults (62.9%) were either overweight (36.3%) or obese (26.6%) in 2010, on par with 2009, but still slightly more than the 62.2% in 2008, according to other recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses respondents’ self-reports of their height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual BMI values of 30 or above are classified as “obese,” 25 to 29.9 are “overweight,” 18.5 to 24.9 are “normal weight,” and 18.4 or less are “underweight.”
About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews with more than 353,000 American adults, aged 18 and older, conducted January 2, 2009 to December 30, 2009. At least 300 surveys were completed for each reported city.